So you want to start running? Whatever your motivation may be, we spoke to Carl of 3C Fitness to find out his top tips for beginner runners to help create a running routine that works for you, keeps you motivated and gets results.
“When I take my clients out for their first few runs, I always start small, sometimes just 20min of short running intervals. It’s a great way to break up a running session, work up the muscles strength and endurance, stay motivated and enjoy the feel good endorphin rush that only a heart racing run can give you”.
Depending on your personal fitness level, Carl suggests starting with timed intervals.
Here’s how you could split up a 30 minute run to make it fun and achievable at any level:
Complete 10x rounds, alternating between 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. Use the first two rounds to build your speed, and then try to maintain your pace and distance for each running interval. Aim to do this two to three times in the first week, then increase your running intervals by 15 seconds per week (i.e. 2 minutes and 15 seconds of running and 45 seconds walking to recover). Continue extending the running and decreasing the rest time by 15 seconds, and by the fifth week, you’ll be running the entire 30 minutes at a decent pace without having to walk.
Carl’s own running journey started with ParkRun, a weekly community run over a 5 km route. The first time he attempted the distance, it took him 27 minutes to complete. “All I kept thinking was is this ever going to end”. After twelve months, he could do it in under 20 minutes. Four years later he had run multiple races, including the London, Frankfurt and Paris marathons and even a few Ultra Marathons in Cape Town, Chamonix, Zermatt and the London to Brighton. The main point being, that It started small.
Set a goal, but don’t over commit.
Depending on your fitness level, set yourself a goal with an expiry date. i.e. Sign up for a 5km charity race in two months time. If you’ve never run more than 5km, it’s probable not the best idea to sign up for a marathon straight away. Having a time specific goal will help to keep you focussed and consistent with your training.
“I never considered that I would one day run ultra-marathons, all I wanted to do was get around the 5km course a little faster each week”. By achieving goals in small steps, you will always feel like you are making progress, and that feeling is the key for consistency.
If you are looking for a big goal though, check out the work we’re doing at G+C with Marathon Mind!
Make time to recover and cross-train.
You may have absolutely crushed your first run, and now you want to do it again tomorrow. But in order for your body to get the best results, it is important to take a few days between running when you are starting out.
That does not mean you don’t have to train. You could supplement the non running days with strength training, yoga or simply walking. Your body craves movement and needs a daily dose of stimulation in order to function at its optimum.
Remember that running is a full-body workout. Regular strength and mobility training will help to improve your running performance. Doing different types of training also reduces the stress running places on your joints. Plus, it keeps things from getting boring.
Improve your running technique.
Running may be a basic human movement, but to do it effectively, like any other sport requires some skill.
When you run, stay relaxed. Keep your shoulders down and steps short and easy. Your body has to get used to the new stresses and strains of running. Many beginner runners start out jogging too fast and pay the price for this mistake within just a few minutes. Start running at a moderate pace (i.e. where you can easily hold a conversation). Even when you feel like cutting loose, maintain the same pace on your first few sessions. By giving your body time to gradually get used to the demands of running, you will have better long-term success.
Track your progress
There are loads of fitness Apps that will help you track your running sessions. Carl uses STRAVA (and we’ve just launched our G+C Run Club here too!) which is like a social network for runners. Remember, some days you’ll struggle, others you’ll fly- you’ll never really know when either of these are going to happen until it’s happening. “I personally use it to track distance and pace. But it’s also rewarding to look back and see my progress over time and a nice reminder of some of the epic runs I’ve done”.
Let’s face it, the first time probably won’t be the best. There may be a tonne of bad days on your running journey, but the good ones will make you forget about them all. For Carl, running is his way of switching off; “it’s my meditation”. He uses running to explore new places when on holiday. “I love to head out for a run in the local neighbourhoods when I go travelling, it’s a great way to find hidden gems and feel like a local.
Carl is co-founder of 3C.Fitness and one of the lead trainers at Core Collective in London. Make sure you check out their advice as to why rest days are so important and stay tuned for more from 3C!